In October 1975, the GTU Executive Committee authorized preliminary planning of an alternative religions resource center providing
materials on the growing variety of cults and sects in the United States. Jacob Needleman, a professor at San Francisco State University, was called in as a consultant and subsequently accepted appointment as program Director and Visiting Professor of Comparative
Religions at the Graduate Theological Union. The Program for the Study of New Religious Movements was inaugurated Fall 1977. Funding was received from NEH, the Rockefeller Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Luce Foundation, and Ford Foundation. Work fell into two distinct phases. First was the Program for the Study of New Religious Movements, 1977-80. After a period
of program and goal evaluation, the second phase was the Center for the Study of New Religious Movements, 1980-83.
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